Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shake, shake, rumble, roar...

Where to start? It's the (early) morning after yesterday afternoon's 5.5 and 6.0 (now upgraded to 5.6 and 6.3) 'aftershocks'. The word aftershock just doesn't cut the mustard. 'Aftershock' implies something less significant than the major event. But yesterday's shakes were big and scary major events in their own right, to say nothing of the constant lesser movement throughout the afternoon, evening and night. I gave up trying to sleep at 3.00am.

When the 6.3 hit yesterday I was down the section. I dropped to my hands and knees and held on. The first time I have been in direct contact with the ground in any of the big quakes and it was more frightening I think than being inside the house. Worse still was the prolonged roar that travelled up the harbour as the tremors subsided. I knew instinctively it was massive rockfall - and I think that unnerved me more than anything else.

Rockfalls at Whitewash Head, 13 June 2011 (not my photo)
Ornaments and paintings fell in the house again - though not on the September or February scale. My carefully stacked woodpile (in the garage) has again collapsed onto my mother's once much treasured mahogany dining table. The cats fled. I checked on neighbours, they checked on me. We shared our experiences. Without power, neighbour Clare's car was stuck in her garage and she borrowed mine to pick up Libby and Joe over the hill. The power finally came back on about 10.30pm. For the first time I felt scared and well and truly 'over it'.

Ironically, on Sunday cousin Claire and I had taken the ferry across the harbour to say farewell to Godley House, badly damaged in the September and February quakes and due to be demolished. It was a beautiful, calm morning in Lyttelton.
Tug Purau at Lyttelton, opposite the Diamond Harbour ferry terminal
Claire and Stormy on the ferry 
According to its website, Godley house was built in 1880 by Harvey Hawkins, a ship chandler, ironmonger and speculator and one of Lyttelton’s leading citizens. The Hawkins home was a grand house for entertaining and a jetty was built at the bottom of the hill to bring the people over from Lyttelton. The home was painted by Margaret Stoddard whose father had sold the land to Hawkins.
Godley House, Diamond Harbour c. 1913. 
In my parents' time, Godley House provided fashionable accommodation. I think Mum and Dad spent part of their honeymoon there.
Godley House, 12th June 2011

The chair, in a garden usually busy with picnicking families and couples having afternoon tea or a wine/beer, was somehow symbolic of the absence that pervades so many locations around the city.

A lone chair in the Godley House grounds


  1. Nooooo . . . !!!!!! Not again . . . . .!!!!!!

    I could feel the ground shaking by your description---could feel the ongoing sadness of losing family heirlooms, of saying goodbye to beloved historical buildings---could feel the fatigue and the fresh terror--

    And can so understand your being "over it." What will be next?

  2. Godley House going leaves another big hole in our memories. Good to have the photos and paintings, we need something to hang on to as the landscape shifts!
    And I know what you mean about being close to the ground. The little 'jolts' are one thing- but when it rolls it's quite uncanny!

  3. How are things post-quakes at home and at work for you Rob??